We light the 4th candle of Advent, the “Love” candle, as the northern hemisphere is at its darkest. Right now, cold, Arctic weather sweeps across the US. In Florida, we have fog, which we have so rarely.
In the deepest darkness, love was born, in the womb of a young Mary of Nazareth.
In the deepest darkness, love was reborn in the tomb of Jesus, which could not contain him, or that love.
Today I had to force myself to read the news about Aleppo, Syria, an epicenter of darkness during this Advent.
In the midst of a purple penitential season, comes a Sunday of uplift and relief, the pink candle -- for Joy, some say for Mary.
Pink is the West’s cultural color for little girls, and apparently, Catholic Popes, cardinals and priests who wear it on Gaudete Sunday. Let’s light a candle for all the girls today, those who don’t get to go to school, who are abducted by warlords, those who are neglected, abused. For girls who are claiming their power, joy and agency in a world that would deny them. Let’s give them one Sunday in our Church calendar.
Lately, I have been enjoying poet Leonard Nathan’s “Diary of a Left-Handed Birdwatcher.”
Well, maybe it takes more than one candle.
Many Sundays, at my home church, I take advantage of two opportunities: the chance to light a votive candle, and to be anointed by a church member.
The first Sunday in Advent, I went up to the candle station brimming with intercessions. I found myself lighting several candles, and feeling a little self-conscious, even though there was not a line, and there were a lot of “open” candles. I lit one for my sister in law whose husband just died, and my wife who was his sister. For so many people, struggling with health, loss. For our country, for the world. For a goddaughter who can’t stay clean or out of jail for long, who no longer has her children.
Finally, I had to stop, and move on and allow someone to anoint me.
I remember hearing Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote so early in my life:
“It is better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness.”
Or something like that.
As Advent approaches, I have become aware that I have indulged in way too much cursing of the darkness recently.
I picked up an Advent book I had read a few years ago, Watch for the Light, an Orbis anthology. In the introduction, there was a quote from Alfred Delp, a German priest martyred under Hitler: